It’s official: USC, UCLA announce move to Big Ten

Ohio State against Southern California on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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Ohio State against Southern California on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Expansion will happen in 2024-25 academic year

USC and UCLA announced Thursday night they will move from the Pac 12 to the Big Ten in 2024, while the Big Ten announced its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to admit the schools.

“We are excited about the opportunity this new partnership represents for The Ohio State University and for our student-athletes to compete with their peers from two storied athletics programs,” Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson and Athletic Director Gene Smith said in a joint statement. “USC and UCLA are leading research universities that will enhance the Big Ten Conference in the classroom and on the field of competition. More than 25,000 alumni of Buckeye Nation call the state of California home and will soon have the chance to deepen their connections to the student-athletes who run, pass, swim and play in the sports they love.”

Reports of the Big Ten’s expansion broke earlier Thursday.

“This decision was made after serious deliberation and analysis,” USC President Carol L. Folt said in a press release, “and with great appreciation and respect for our Pac-12 colleagues with whom we have enjoyed a wonderful history and relationship.”

UCLA released a similar statement from Chancellor Gene D. Block and Athletic Director Martin Jarmond, who wrote, “As the oldest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States and with a footprint that will now extend from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Big Ten membership offers Bruins exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents. Specifically, this move will enhance Name, Image and Likeness opportunities through greater exposure for our student-athletes and offer new partnerships with entities across the country.”

USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said the move will happen when the Pac 12′s current media rights contract expires in 2024.

“This is the most volatile and uncertain era in the history of American collegiate athletics,” Bohn said. “USC must ensure it is best positioned and prepared for whatever happens next, and it is our responsibility to always evaluate potential opportunities and be willing to make changes when needed. Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports. We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”

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The Big Ten announced it received written applications from the two schools and evaluated them on “academics and culture; student-athlete welfare, competition, and logistics; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in sports; and financial sustainability.”

“As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the collective goal to forward the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes under the umbrella of higher education,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a press release. “The unanimous vote today signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block. I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of our campus leadership, athletics directors and Council of Presidents and Chancellors who recognize the changing landscape of college athletics, methodically reviewed each request, and took appropriate action based on our consensus.”

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